Vented Gas Fireplace in rental unit?

14 Replies

Hello BP members,

I've moved into one of the units of my Triplex and it has a mixture of electric and gas heating.  My father in law recommended that I get a freestanding vented gas fireplace to heat the 800 sf unit, which would help lower my electric bill.  I personally thought that this would be a great idea.  It would add an inviting and cozy ambiance to the unit, and it would heat the entire place to my liking (it would have controlled temperature settings to keep a consistent temp).  However, I'm not sure if this would be a risky thing to have for when I have a tenant move into the unit in the future... It's a smaller, cabin like unit, and I think it would add great character and save a ton on my utility bill.  Plus, I'm in Minnesota where the temp is currently -7 degrees!

Does anyone have any recommendations/advice about adding a vented gas fireplace?

Thanks in advance!

-Sam 

My insurance only hastles me about solid fuel heat, meaning wood or pellet. You’ll be fine with anything natural gas. Go for it.

I would call your insurance co. and ask. That way you know for sure.

@Jim S. I contacted my insurance company, a vented gas fireplace will not increase my insurance policy.  

we have a couple gas stove fireplaces in apartments in St. Paul.  Tenants love them!

Gas fire place is OK provided all utility's will be in the tenants name.

If gas is not in tenants name then no way.  

Guess I would consider the overall cost to how long you are going to live their and how much YOU are expecting it to save.  As mentioned, if the tenant is going to pay utilities when you leave the only savings you get is for when you live there.  Plus this would be another appliance to maintain - would suck running over every time the pilot went out or the thermocouple needed replacing.  May be a good idea for a room that is not adequately heated however I can't see a tenant wanting to pay a lot more for a unit with a fireplace.

Lastly, I would guess you have a gas furnace - not sure how adding another gas appliance will save a lot of money in gas costs.  Sure there won't be heat loss in the ducts and it will heat certain areas quicker but a significant savings???  Would have to see the numbers.

What I lacked to mention is that the utility bills are all on the same meters. So a big reason I think this could be useful is to save money while I am living in the unit as well as when we leave and find a tenant.

It’s also in the basement, so it can be colder during the winter months.

Originally posted by @Samuel J Claeson :

What I lacked to mention is that the utility bills are all on the same meters. So a big reason I think this could be useful is to save money while I am living in the unit as well as when we leave and find a tenant.

So you must be splitting gas with your tenant, plan to install a gas fireplace in your unit, then split the new cost with them?

@John Woodrich I will actually be paying for all of the utilities for the triplex. The unit has furnace heat and several electric wall heaters. My thought is to replace the spendy electric heaters with a gas fireplace.

@Samuel J Claeson Gotcha.  Maybe down the road you can separate out the utilities and charge them back.  Adding heat to the lower unit should help heat the entire place but the person up top may be roasting and you may be upset to come home and see windows open.  I have that issue at one of my properties, frustrating to see the window open in the middle of the winter!

@John Woodrich - have you considered adding insulation to the ceiling of the lower unit? I've never done that- but I think it would slow the rate of heat flow through the ceiling, and hopefully reduce the upper tenant's need to open the window.

If you have dropped ceilings, maybe some fiberglass insulation wouldn't be too hard to install. Other ceiling types would not allow such a simple fix, I think.

Originally posted by @Michael Gansberg :

@John Woodrich - have you considered adding insulation to the ceiling of the lower unit? I've never done that- but I think it would slow the rate of heat flow through the ceiling, and hopefully reduce the upper tenant's need to open the window.

If you have dropped ceilings, maybe some fiberglass insulation wouldn't be too hard to install. Other ceiling types would not allow such a simple fix, I think.

No I haven't, it is all drywall and to some extent I don't mind the lower units heating the uppers.  Haven't put much thought into it yet but the tenants pay electric and I may remove the wall AC units and replace them at some point with the hotel heat/AC units.  Then I could take control of the boiler thermostats in each unit and they could use their unit to heat their apartment.  Seemingly if I set the boiler to 68, any energy to bring it over this temp would be on the tenant.  At the same time it may be their electricity pushing out the windows instead of my gas.  Just a quick thought, haven't owned the place for long.

I'm not sure what type of fireplace you put in, but it can be a bit spendy if paying someone else to do it and putting in a new unit.

It would be hard for me to see much return on the investment but could help attract tenants.

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